A year ago Jonny Gomes was making a cool million bucks to form a rather effective left field/DH platoon in Oakland where he hit .262/.377/.491 with 18 homers and 47 RBI while playing in just 99 games. At this point you might be asking yourself, “Hey, why did Jonny Gomes only play in 99 games? That on-base percentage is sky-high and would have ranked 8th in baseball if Gomes got more at bats. And his power is pretty decent too.” Boston general manager Ben Cherington may have been asking himself that very same question when he picked up the phone yesterday, dialed up Gomes’ agent and offered a 2 year/$10 million dollar deal.
Well there’s a good reason Mr. Gomes appeared in just under 100 games. Jonny Gomes can’t hit righties. He just can’t. He flails away at the plate against them. Oh sure, he might turn on the occasional hanging curveball and knock it out of the yard. But that’s just a product of him swinging for the fences every at-bat more than a product of a good, balanced hitting approach.
Just take a look at how Gomes has done against righties over the past couple of seasons:
2011: 264 plate appearances, .167/.292/.392, 11 homers, 79 strikeouts
2012: 137 plate appearances, .209/.324/.391, 7 homers, 46 strikeouts
That’s a little over 400 trips to the plate for Gomes against righties, slightly more than a full season’s worth, and he’s hitting under the Mendoza line while also doing a poor job of getting on base. And over the course of his career he has a .223/.307/.425 slash against righties, so it’s not just a recent problem either. The homers are nice and maybe Gomes swing will play nice with the Green Monster, but it’s probably not going to help him from making easy outs against righties.
Maybe Boston is going to add another outfielder who mashes right-handed pitching. Raul Ibanez is out there and he was exactly that type of hitter a year ago, facing righties exclusively during the regular season. He’s just waiting for somebody to come along and overpay for his ridiculous, out-of-control October heroics. Boston could be that team and Gomes and Ibanez would probably form a nice platoon at the plate, although they’d be blooper reel all on their own in the outfield.
Gomes formed a nice platoon a year ago with a variety of hitters in Oakland and Boston could be looking for his .299/.413/.561 line against lefties again. That type of hitting is valuable in a division where aces like CC Sabathia and David Price lurk. I don’t know if it’s $5 million dollars a year valuable, and the fact that he’s never put up a single season with a Wins Above Replacement higher than 2 would scare me, but hey, it’s not my money.